GOVERNMENT’S move to offer a second, and last, tax arrears recovery incentive programme this week, is a clear indication that President Hage Geingob’s administration is still keen to live up to its promise to be responsive government, which is ready to listen to its citizenry, rather than operate in a vacuum.
Government should be applauded for this latest initiative, which meets errant taxpayers halfway, and allows them to pay their capital amounts owed, along with only 30 percent of the interest attached.
This comes after the previous incentive programme, which ended on 31 July, had hoped to collect an overall tax arrears (business and individual) of N$4 billion, together with a further N$1 billion in penalties.
Government ended up collecting a fraction of that during the period, amid cries by tenderpreneurs that they could not pay, because the State had not honoured their invoices for work done.
Again, government met these tenderpreneurs halfway, with assurances by Geingob that the State would settle all its outstanding invoices by the end of August.
The announcement this week of the second tax recovery incentive programme also came amid earlier threats by government that punitive measures would be implemented against tax dodgers, included the backlisting of their businesses, the sale in execution of their assets and garnishee orders being obtained against their bank accounts.
These errant non-payers have again been granted a stay of execution, so to speak, and should now take full advantage of the grace period, which begins on 11 September and ends on 11 March 2018.
Government has once again employed the carrot approach, rather than wielding the stick, but this should not be a licence for tax-dodging tenderpreneurs and others to continue their illicit activities.
We have long argued that government has been honouring its payment obligations to tenderpreneurs over the years, while they have not been paying their taxes.
In fact, they have been ravaging and raping the State, including through the inflation of tenders, while withholding their taxes from government.
This is evident from the whopping tax arrears that 55 000 businesses have incurred over the years, with a principle amount of over N$3 billion still outstanding.
The impacts of the non-payment of taxes is immense, and has a direct bearing on government’s ability to honour its debts and develop the country, through its national development plans.
Countries like South Africa and Nigeria, which have better tax compliance levels, have recently exited economic recessions, as their respective governments have increased their ability to spend and grow their economies.
In our national context, the effects of tax non-compliance are becoming more evident every year, and the amount of federal revenue lost is beginning to substantially drill holes in all of our national economic blueprints.
With a growing national debt, our ability as a nation to provide jobs, healthcare and unemployment diminishes substantially.
If the deficit continues to grow, our nation will be downgraded further, in terms of its credit ratings.
Empirical evidence has shown that the uncooperative and non-progressive attitudes of our citizenry, towards tax payments, results in major financial problems for government. It is an agreed fact that the payment of taxes is among the basic things needed for the survival of any country, and more so in Namibia, which is at a major transitory stage, in her quest for industrialisation and the provision of basic rights to its citizens.
In encouraging debtors to pay their dues to the Receiver of Revenue, Confidente maintains that tax matters, because it provides sustainable funding for social and economic development programmes, and it provides the nexus which binds the State to its citizens.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015